Local News

Leading Off (9/2/21)

Supreme Court won't block Texas' abortion ban, family violence cases believed to be among deleted police data, and a firefighter battles COVID

Supreme Court Rejects Last Ditch Effort to Block Texas Abortion Bill. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court denied an appeal by Texas abortion providers to block enforcement of the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which went into effect yesterday. The law effectively bans abortions after six-weeks of pregnancy, a time at which many women still do not know they are pregnant. The new law is enforced not by the state but by civil lawsuits, which means anyone who aides or abets an abortion after six weeks may be sued by a private individual for penalties up to $10,000 plus legal fees. That has also made the law difficult to challenge in the courts. Texas Right to Life is already soliciting information on anyone suspected of abetting an abortion, but there is some ambiguity about how those lawsuits may move forward given existing medical privacy protections. A Fort Worth abortion provider said its clinics were jam-packed ahead of the enactment of the new law.

Deleted DPD Data Included Family Violence and Child Abuse Case Information. It is the first indication that that evidence related to violent crimes was included in the 22.5 terabytes of data deleted from the city’s computers. Police executive assistant chief Albert Martinez told the DMN that he is “highly confident” that much of this data is backed-up, but at this point, it is difficult to have much confidence in any information coming out of the police department or city hall. Why the mayor and council have not yet called for an outside forensic audit of the entire debacle is beyond me. An internal review of the matter has already found that the IT employee whom city staff claim is responsible for the data loss deleted data on at least three separate occasions. The employee was fired last Friday.

Dallas May Lose First Firefighter to COVID. David Leos has served for more than 40 years with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department. Yesterday, members of the department gathered outside the window of his room at Parkland hospital for a small vigil after they learned that doctors do not expect Leos to survive his battle with COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, 650 firefighters have tested positive. Firefighters, like police officers, have been reluctant to get the COVID vaccine. Unvaccinated children have also pushed Cook’s Children’s Health Care System into “crisis mode” as the hospital is forced to open a third COVID unit.

Dems Sue to Stall Redistricting. The governor and Republicans want to cram redistricting into their special session agenda, but a lawsuit filed by two state Democrats argues that the Texas Constitution requires redistricting to take place during regular legislative sessions, which won’t take place until 2023. If successful, the delay would give judges power to draw interim redistricting plans that would be used in the 2022 midterm elections.

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